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In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

How not to be holy

By Rabbi Reuven Drucker



Don't let a misconception limit your spiritual achievements


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Dear Rabbi,

The Torah commands us (Lev. 19.2) "be holy, because I, Hashem, your G—d, am holy," I envision a seemingly unrealistic expectation to be someone that I don't realistically see myself becoming. I have a hard time relating to the idea of "being holy" and would appreciate any insight on the subject.


Thank you,
Janice

Dear Janice,

I must admit that you are only the second person that has asked me this question and it truly gets to the crux of this Torah portion and the Torah's definition of holiness.


There are several misconceptions about the notion of holiness. Some believe it refers to the mysterious and esoteric teachings of the Torah associated with Kabbalah. Others think of eyeball—rolling mystics who worship G—d in a state of ecstasy. Still others are reminded of asceticism, withdrawing from the world of materialism.


However, from Maimonides we can draw other conclusions. By dint of his genius, he was able to codify all of Jewish law, as expounded upon in the Talmud. Although written more than 7 centuries ago, it remains an unparalleled work in Jewish jurisprudence. In Maimonides' view, all of Jewish law may be divided into 14 categories. So he named his work Yad Chazakah (lit. "strong hand"), which is a word play on the name 'hand,' which has a numerical equivalent of 14. He named each of the 14 books, and one of the books is called The Book of Holiness. Therefore, if we investigate the laws that Maimonides codifies in this book, we will discover his definition of 'holiness.' To our surprise, the laws relating to the Holy Temple, Torah scroll, or Tefillin are not even incorporated into this book. Rather, there are two main sets of laws. One deals with forbidden foods (the laws of Kosher), and the other deals with the laws of forbidden unions between a man and a woman.


From Maimonides' perspective, we see that holiness means 'restraint' — the ability to withstand temptation. Unlike animals that eat when they are hungry and mate when they are programmed, a human being has the ability to exercise his free will and override what instinct and temptation might suggest. A Jew has the ability to refrain from eating on Yom Kippur, realizing that sometimes there are needs that are even greater than nourishing the body — namely, the need to nourish the soul. A Jew has the ability to turn away from someone of the opposite gender if such a union is not in conformity with the Divine's plan for His people. Holiness, then, is the advancement of what is truly human, instead of succumbing to the allures of animal instinct. It does not imply the denial of human instinct, but rather regulation of that instinct according to the Torah's dictates.


The portion of Kedoshim in Leviticus enumerates some 46 commandments. The common thread among almost all of them is that they require major efforts of self-restraint. Many of the commandments in this Torah portion deal with financial concerns — giving money to the poor by leaving them part of the harvest in many ways. The desire for money is among the strongest of human desires. Overcoming one's desire for wealth by taking into account the needs of the poor requires high levels of self-restraint. Other commandments deal with forbidden foods, such as not eating fruits from a tree that is not yet 3 years old. One can imagine the curiosity and temptation that one might have to find out how his new tree produces fruit. Nevertheless, the Torah requires that one postpone such a taste until the tree is in its fourth year. Many other commandments deal with idolatry and the allure to know the future — issues which were very compelling to mankind until the Men of the Great Assembly nullified the urge for idolatry. To the modern mind, idolatry seems almost humorously sick, but to the ancient mind, it had one of the strongest pulls on the human psyche. In addition, the forbidden unions between a man and woman appear at the end of the portion.


So, Janice, holiness has been put into reach for every individual. We each have free will to make the hard choices that ultimately help us attain the highest form a man or woman may reach. It all depends on our ability to regulate our behaviors according to Torah norm. Today, it might be unfashionable to subscribe to the notion of 'delayed gratification,' but this has been the secret that has kept the Jewish people holy since the Torah was given on Sinai over 3,300 years ago.

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Rabbi Reuven Drucker is the spiritual leader of Congregation Agudath Israel in Highland Park, NJ.


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